Today I am going to consider how to approach writing fight scenes. The trick in this case is to keep action immediate, reactionary, fast-paced and highly visual.
Here are what I believe to be the five most important rules when writing a fight sequence:
1) Immediate Action
Assuming you are not describing an old fight, always keep action as firmly in the present moment as possible e.g He threw another punch. He dove to the side.
2) Reaction Not Anticipating
You should never have your character reacting to something that hasn't happened yet. Just compare these two examples:
Version One: Christian dove to the side when Johann threw a punch.
Version Two: Johann threw a punch, and Christian dove to the side to avoid the blow.
In order to create tension and a sense of urgency in your fight scenes, keep beats short and sharp. This is not the time for long, descriptive sentences. The telling of the scene should reflect the quick, violent nature of the action.
A fight sequence is not the time to begin telling your readers all your character's deep inner thoughts. It's fine to have short, internal reactions to what is happening within the fight, especially if the combatants have come apart for a breather in between attacks, but this is not a time to talk about the character's long term goals or their feelings for their lady love back in their homeland. These people are in the middle of a fight, the last thing on their mind as they evade a deadly blow is what they will have for dinner the next day!
It's worth a little research to make sure you get your fights right. If they are fighting with swords, Google some suitable terms to use, and know the limitations of the weapons you're describing. Nothing is worse than reading a fight scene in which you know what the author has described would not be physically possible.
Join me next time when we turn up the heat and discuss writing the infamous sex scene!